Neath the Nothing Night of Yuletide

Glassy snow caves gleam and glitter,

Frozen fangs of frost protruding

As the dismal darkness deepens.

Over misty moors and mountains

Whistle winds and wolves in wastelands,

Shrouded shadows wander softly

Bringing fear to beasts of burden.

Ever since the solstice sunset

Sleeps the land in silent slumber,

Trees and tribes of beasts all tremble,

Wanly waiting out the winter.

Fearing frightful fiends of night-time,

By their homestead hearths men huddle,

Famished flames on faggots feasting,

Lengthy logs of lumber crackle.

To protect from terror outside

Men will lock out lonely lurkers,

Door is closed on draughty darkness,

‘Gainst the ghosts and grim-eyed ghoul-things.

Moving minds from moonlit monsters,

Tales are told of times more joyful,

When the sweetest sun of summer

Yet did warm the woods and water.

Hounds and hares are fleeing, hiding,

From the path of those approaching:

Black is sleigh, its bells are silenced,

Steam is rising, steeds are straining

Through the fields both fair and frozen.

Crimson-eyed, immortal creatures:

Mighty under midnight moonlight,

Drawing sleigh are daemons dreadful.

To man’s threshold they now thunder,

From the hells to home and hearth-flame,

Leeching lives of lowly mankind,

Beat in breast is brought to standstill.

Dark things stop at dwelling’s doorstep,

Daemons start a soulless clamour,

From a King’s seat climbs the Cold One

Crowned with crystal, cursed with craving.

Knock of deadly nadir nightmare

Yields at Yule much youngling terror,

‘Tis the time for task before us,

Sacrifice to save the sunlight.

Plump young pig is pledged to Pale King

Else the Cold One claims men’s children,

For if dire deed is done not

Taste the night for time eternal.

Nimble knife will nick the pig’s throat

And the squealing soon is ceasing,

Burning blood will then abate some

As the corpse is cleaned for claiming.

Prince at portal gains the piglet

Held is meat by hands of hoarfrost

Mortal breath is brief and bated

Till the nameless Night-lord nods thus.

Simple sacrifice accepted,

Hearts of homestead lift most highly

And the Dark One drifts from doorway

Over snow to sleigh and servants.

Reins and runners then are ready,

Soon are eerie songs a-ringing

Over wind-swept winter wastelands,

Soon the land will see the sun back.



Dan Stride has a lifelong love of literature in general and speculative fiction in particular.  He writes both short stories and poetry; his first novel “Wise Phuul”, is to be released in November 2016.  He lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.

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